According to the UK newspaper, The Independent, tens of thousands of retired British citizens who have opted for a life abroad will soon face benefit cuts as a result of the new coalition government’s plans to cease their winter fuel payments.
In a bid to reduce public spending the government have revealed that they are currently considering axing the winter fuel payments for any British citizens that are living outside the United Kingdom. One government official has been quoted as saying that the benefits currently paid to expatriates are unjustified given the climates in which they live: “This is going to be investigated,” he said, adding that it is “not fair” to pay an allowance for heating bills to people who live in warmer climates.
Matthew Elliott, of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, echoed the sentiment, telling UK newspaper The Times, ‘To get the deficit under control, cuts in unnecessary benefits are going to be essential. We should start with winter fuel payments to retirees in the Algarve.’
Winter fuel payments were originally introduced as a means of helping pensioners to meet the heavy charges associated with heating their homes during the winter months and all British pensioners who were resident in the UK on their 60th birthday are entitled to an allowance of 250 GBP per year, 0r 400 GBP per year once they turn 80. However, it is estimated that around 65,000 British expatriates are benefiting from the payments, despite the fact that they live in countries that remain warm throughout the year. According to The Independent, cutting the payments to expatriates will save the government up to 14 million GBP per year.
The laws are not finalized yet however, and there is a strong chance that the plans will be blocked under European law, which prevents a government from discriminating against individuals who have chosen to live overseas.